Wednesday 30 May 2007

Advice for collectors ... or not?

Two recent articles present very different takes on whether collectors should employ art advisors.

In the Business section of the New York Times, 'The Art of Buying Art, With the Help of an Adviser' looks at advisors from the services point of view. Good things about advisors include:

  • they can educate you about art, and introduce you to new artists and galleries
  • they can get you access to stockrooms and waiting lists
  • they can do the legwork you're too busy for
  • they can help you decide what to bid at auction
  • they can 'mediate between a husband and wife on a big purchase' (quote from New York-based artist Marilyn Greenberg).

Meanwhile, in The Art Newspaper, 'The problem with art advisors' has a much less rosy view. Bad things about advisors include:

  • they have 'Gucci clothes and that perfect hair, but there’s no passion for art' (quote from Berlin gallerist Guido Baudach)
  • art fairs have made it much easier for them to approach art dealers, as dealers are 'on the floor and totally accessible' (quote from Glenn Scott Wright, director at Victoria Miro Gallery, London)
  • there's a new and less respectable breed of advisor who 'go around crashing cocktail parties and shimmying up to people who just got a big bonus at Goldman Sachs' (quote from David Leiber of Sperone Westwater gallery in New York)

Okay - so far, so funny. But The Art Newspaper article does raise a more substantial issue.

There's a number of different ways that art advisors make their money. Not everyone is happy with all of them, and there have been cases where an art advisor has double-dipped without the client's knowledge. This is where the article gets interesting. Ways of making a cut include:

  • being paid a retainer, usually related to the size of the collection being built, and the speed with which it is to be developed
  • being paid a commission on each work from the gallery it's purchased from
  • being paid a commission by both the gallery and the client.

So how about here in New Zealand? The gallery system here is still pretty egalitarian. There's only a handful of artists whose work you might not be able to purchase just by turning up at the opening with your chequebook.

Getting the really good stuff though, especially by older or historical artists, probably requires building a relationship with the right dealer/s. By and large, this isn't hard: the dealers here are a relatively friendly bunch.

In my opinion, the times you might want an advisor would be when (a) you have lots of money, little knowledge of New Zealand art, and less time (b) you're looking to buy on the secondary market, and you need someone to help you sniff out the work, and evaluate it or (c) when you want to branch out of the area you're familiar with and start collecting in a different period or media.

So - where to find one? Don't use the Yellow Pages. Ask around and get a recommendation from another collector (whose collection you admire), a gallery curator (whose shows and publications you admire), or an art dealer (who runs a business that you admire).

Tuesday 29 May 2007

More advice for collectors / subsection / immortality

From Peter Aspden's interview with Damien Hirst in the Financial Times:

I ask if the stratospheric sums in today’s art market ever give him pause for thought but he remains resolutely unfazed. “I don’t see what else you can spend your money on,” he says of the super-rich. “If you want to own things, art is a pretty good bet. Buy art, build a museum, put your name on it, let people in for free. That’s as close as you can get to immortality.”

Monday 28 May 2007

Advice for collectors

Another potential addition to the bookshelves: Paige West's The Art of Buying Art: An Insider's Guide to Collecting Contemporary Art

In an excerpt from the book on, 6 breeds of collectors are described:
  1. The Decorator (art matches the curtains)
  2. The Investor (art is like the stock market)
  3. The Specialist (art fits with your idiosyncratic interest)
  4. The Vacationer (art gets bought on holiday)
  5. The Thrill Seeker (artist X is, like, so hot right now)
  6. The Addict (art is a compulsion).

Thursday 24 May 2007

Oh, now I get it ...

For anyone that missed the utterly inane Campbell Live interview with British art critic Matthew Collings at the Auckland Art Fair last night, the video is available here:

Matthew Colling interview-TV3 website

Sample out-take:

Jaquie Brown: I hate binary code.

Matthew Collings: I'm so primitive I don't even think about binary code. I just think ovals and straight lines. And in this one they're nice and brown and black and in that one they're these weird kind of muted colours.

JB: And what's it saying? What am I meant to think?

MC: I don't think its saying anything about binary code. But maybe it is. If so, I have absolutely no idea about what that might be. Maybe it's representations of God.

JB: God, you're so deep.

Image: Peter Robinson, One Lives, 2006. Lamda print. 50 x 30cm. Image from the Sue Crockford Gallery website.

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Monday 21 May 2007

Type cast

Gwynneth Porter and Warren Olds (of Clouds) have apparently taken Over the net to task for daring to suggest that the Venice un-publication might use Helvetica.

To my mind, Helvetica is one of typeface's silver foxes (alongside Gill Sans). The Swiss font is 50 this year, and still proudly utilised by brands ranging from Gap to Tupperware. MoMA saw fit to throw it an exhibition to mark its half-century (Helvetica, by the by, was the first typeface the Museum acquired). These people baked it a birthday cake. Lars Muller's written a book about it (he calls it the 'perfume of the city'). Gary Hustwit made a film.

But I guess there's always Comic Sans.

Designer joke: Two fonts walk into the bar and the barman says "sorry lads, we don't serve your type".

5 word review of David Cross's 'Hold' at Massey University last week

Relational aesthetics with door bitches.

Friday 18 May 2007

Today's new feature

In the right-hand sidebar, I've added a widget providing recent feeds from Over the net, ArtWorld Salon and Peter Peryer. Enjoy.

Wednesday 16 May 2007

When does new get old?

In a recent review, 'It's boring at the top', Jerry Saltz writes that in Andreas Gursky's recent photographs the "fizz has gone flat, the power has run low, the former buzz has become a drone." Saltz suggests that Gursky's latest works, while still powerful (not to mention enormous, and expensive) are becoming dangerously self-referential.

Edward Winkleman has picked up on the review, and subsequent buzz, to write an interesting post that asks, can we expect artists to stay on the bleeding edge? (That's what we call 'cutting edge' in NZ - new term coming to an artist-run space near you soon.) Should they have to? Is it inevitable that after a flare of startling originality an artist will continue to explore what interests them, with the result that their work, while new, looks old? And that elderly trope - if the market likes it, why not keep on making it?

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Of Gorse of Course

A little shameless promotion: get to know Wellington artist Regan Gentry via his interview on The Big Idea, and go visit his upcoming show 'Of Gorse of Course' at The New Dowse, opening 2 June 2007.

A catalogue designed by Jessica Gommers of umbrella design, featuring an essay by Aaron Kreisler and a limited edition DVD by Gentry accompanies 'Of Gorse of Course'.

Image: Regan Gentry, Common Cold, 2004. Digital still from DVD.

Carbon neutral

Image: Albert Percy Godber standing beside a notice at the Akatarawa Summit, 1936. A. P. Godber Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library. Reference number: APG-1471-1/4-G.

Monday 14 May 2007

Off to Antarctica

Ronnie van Hout has been announced as one of the two recipients of the 2007/08 'Artists To Antarctica' fellowship (along with author Tessa Duder).

Van Hout will be off to the frozen continent in October or November this year. He says:
"Antarctica as a frontier fascinates me. It is one of the areas of our earth that resembles most closely an alien environment. The alien is a strong feature of my art, and I was interested to see how many early depictions of Antarctica have an alien presence at their heart. My aim is to examine the human in an extreme alien environment."
Image: Cinematographer Captain James Francis Hurley alongside the Endurance , on Shackleton's 1914-1917 expedition to Antartica. Photographic Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library. Reference number: 1/2-098619-F.

Thursday 10 May 2007

Patron of the year

On Tuesday Auckland arts patron Jenny Gibbs was announced as 2007 recipient of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Award for Patronage, presented by Webbs - Fine Art Auctioneers.

The Arts Foundation gave Gibbs $20,000 to distribute, which she personally matched. The four recipients were:
  • Gretchen Albrecht
  • Auckland Writers and Readers Festival
  • The New Zealand Opera School.

Get free art now

Until 11.30pm BST today (Thursday 10 May), you can download this work by Gilbert & George for free from the Guardian website.

The work, called Planed, is available for download for 48 hours (and yes - I've found out about this about 30 hours late, my apologies). It consists of nine panels which you download, print and assemble (and then if you're cunning, auction off at Art+Object in a year's time).

Download Planed - Guardian website

Friday 4 May 2007

A better breed of art fair?

In a recent post on ArtWorld Salon, Marc Spiegler ponders Gallery Weekend Berlin as an 'antidote' to art fairs.

Gallery Weekend Berlin - Marc Spiegler, ArtWorld Salon

For GWB, 29 galleries hold openings on Friday night, and pledge to open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. A pocket-sized programme is distributed. Dealers hold private dinners on the Friday night, and on the Saturday night there is a gala event, to which every participating dealer can invite six guests. Speigler writes:
"Now, an artworld idealist might say that good galleries should not have to coordinate their openings and engineer a big social occasion to attract out-of-town visitors. As a realist, however, I think it’s an excellent strategy. Much like an art fair, it leverages the strengths of many galleries - their artists and their networks - to mutual benefit, while acknowledging the time-crunched lives of today’s artworld players. Plus, the galleries get to show their artists in spaces the dealer chose to fit their program."

Which in itself is an antidote to the restrictions placed on dealers at this year's Auckland Art Fair.

Round-up: art and design blogs

Artkrush (nice name, huh Artbash?) has posted an issue on art and design blogs. As they point out, the immediacy of blogging, in combination with its ability to be international (reached from anywhere) and local (focused on a specific place or topic), is changing art commentary.

The issue features:

Thursday 3 May 2007


Apologies for the delay, but I have finally gone through Feedburner and added a proper feed [swivel eyes right]. Enjoy.

Wednesday 2 May 2007


Yeah yeah - I do, you do, we all do, Google.

iGoogle is Google's rebranding of its personalised homepage option. I got introduced to these last week. If you have a Google account (Gmail, Blogger etc) you can go to Google and personalise it as your homepage: add news feeds, alerts from you Gmail, your Google calendar, clocks, count-downs, "messages from your sweetie" (I think that one's for the Americans).

So I dutifully customised my homepage, and then pretty promptly forgot about it. Now though, people are being invited to "express themselves with iGoogle" by selecting a page theme (see this announcement from Google Australia).

So, just as dutifully, I dug my iGoogle back up, and tried out the seven themes that were available. And they were dull. No, worse than dull - syrupy. So a syrupy reskin of a service that duplicates a bunch of stuff that I already do. No wonder the air is rushing out of the Web 2.0 bubble.

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Where are the great web artists?

Watercouleur Park, by French group Qubo Gas, is the Tate's 11th web art commission.

It's a great ... screensaver. Given that 'Web 2.o' has unleashed a big itchy rash of creativity - blogs, YouTube, Second Life - why is it that online art seems so passive?

Happy to be corrected ....